In the last few weeks, the issue of “trademark scams” has received much attention – and rightfully so. Trademark applicants and registrants – even those represented by counsel – have recently received solicitations that are misleading because they look like official government correspondence, or they offer publication in a directory that is worthless, or both. Lawsuits (kudos to Leason Ellis), FTC complaints, state attorney general complaints, and more should be used by affected persons and businesses to counter and punish the false and deceptive advertising put forth by these solicitations.
I created a petition letter to the USPTO and the Trademark Public Advisory Committee last week asking for more investigation of the issue and, if possible, coordination with other government agencies to crack down on these scams. Others also have been writing and blogging about the issue. The USPTO apparently received the message that this was confusing trademark applicants and registrants and acted quickly – last week it added a warning to the front page of the trademarks page of the USPTO.gov website.
WARNING: NON-USPTO SOLICITATIONS THAT MAY RESEMBLE OFFICIAL USPTO COMMUNICATIONS: Be aware that private companies not associated with the USPTO often use trademark application and registration information from the USPTO’s databases to mail or e-mail trademark-related solicitations.
The petition was signed online by more than 40 people. This week I sent the petition letter and signatures to the Commissioner for Trademarks at the USPTO (see below), but it is not too late to sign it online:
In addition, I sent a letter to the Virginia Attorney General requesting that his office investigate these solicitations and how they affect Virginia businesses and residents. See letter below. I urge others who have received or paid these scam providers to contact their state attorneys general for investigation. Perhaps a groundswell of complaints will lead to action. If you have any other ideas for dealing with the solicitations, let me know in the comments.